It was only nine years ago or a lifetime by any other measure.  I was standing in the Donut Prince on Magnolia just outside of Burbank, buying two dozen doughnuts for my soon-to-be-ex-coworkers of Top Rung Entertainment, Inc. (a publically-traded company at the time).  It was cool in the early morning, pewter-steel sky and latent dripping from the moist fog that marked an early arrival of the June Gloom to Southern California.  Just about any other animator wouldn’t be seen dead getting up at this ungodly hour, not unless they’d worked through the night to the following day (as I had done on several occasions since starting work there.)

 But I was a specially damaged case, in that I’d willingly come in early and work late afterwards.  One, because I was never particularly sure of my abilities, even after having been hired on some nine months earlier.  Two, because I was working my dream job, as sad as that may be.  And anyone who worked alongside me there at the studio would indeed attest to the sadness of that being anything resembling a dream job.  I mean, what was not to love?  Long hours, only decent pay in return, thankless management (and I don’t mean the supervising animators, all of whom understood exactly what kind of wringer the grunts were being put through), and did I mention that I was commuting from San Diego to Los Angeles twice a week, spending weekdays up in LA and weekends in San Diego?

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